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Super 1 Foods: North Idaho’s Community Supermarket

Family owned, community focused

By Abigail Thorpe

Walk in your local Super 1 Foods store, and odds are you’re met by a friendly face, helping hands and a sense of community. Particularly during these uncertain times, our supermarket and grocery workers have been on the frontlines, making sure their communities have the goods they need, with a sense of “we’re all in this together” at every stage of the process.

While many of us were (or are) stuck at home, they’ve been the often unseen hands stocking shelves, cleaning carts and making sure the elderly and those most in need have access to the necessities.

But It’s not just COVID-19 that’s brought this about—Super 1 has always had community at its core. “At Super 1 Foods we emulate our founders’ values: trust, loyalty, integrity, dependability, safety,” says Jeff Hamley, Super 1 Foods Store director in Bonners Ferry. The company was founded by Ron and Joanne McIntire in 1970, and Ron is still active in the business today.

The company just opened its 16th store in May 2020 in Oldtown, Idaho. “Being a local North Idaho founded company, and growing up with the towns in North Idaho through all the growth in the last 50 years, has kept us involved in serving our communities as times and needs have changed,” says Randy McIntire, the Hayden-based vice president of Manito Super 1 Foods.

Ron McIntire was dedicated to serving local charitable and governmental organizations, including his local school board and the Boy Scouts Inland Northwest Council, formerly the Inland Empire Council. “Super 1 Foods follows his lead in trying to be generous, helpful in our local communities,” says Randy McIntire. “Our schools, and our local food banks, are some primary organizations we try to serve.

“Some of our small rural schools are now large suburban schools, and the available opportunities have grown with our communities. Super 1 has been able to serve more and in larger ways as it has grown as a company,” he adds.

Each store—and the company as a whole—continues to operate by Ron McIntire’s commitment to the community, supporting various youth programs, schools, parks and recs programs, scouts, 4-H, county fairs and hospital boards in each area.

“Hayden (and) Coeur d’Alene communities are made up of people that are very proud of their community, and appreciate the natural beauty of North Idaho,” says Randy McIntire. “They are very active in trying to support our local community and be a positive influence on keeping our community a great place to live. Super 1 Foods, like many other local businesses, are striving for the same thing—to make our community a better place to live.”

The Coeur d’Alene area was the site of some of the very first Super 1 Foods that opened up—a name that many throughout the Inland Northwest now know as their friendly local food supplier.

Steven Furin started his time with Super 1 in Coeur d’Alene in 1995 before becoming the Sandpoint store manager. “Our philosophy is consistently writing low prices with the highest quality in fresh foods,” he says. “Trustworthiness, loyalty—being committed to being really professional in our work environment—those are some of the things that are important.”

Furin recalls Ron McIntire impressing upon him the importance of community when Furin first came to Sandpoint in 2010 to manage the then newly opened store.

For Furin personally, Kinderhaven, local sports, the hospital and 4-H are top causes he makes it a priority to support. “It's important that we spend time helping people that need help in those areas,” he says. He serves on an advisory committee at the hospital, which has been especially important and a key link to the work he does at the store during the current health concerns, he notes.

The first year the Sandpoint store opened it donated a pallet of electrolytes to the local football team, recalls Furin. They’ve been donating a pallet of Powerade to the team every year since. He soon got actively involved in individually supporting local sports teams, and has been coaching youth sports—either football, basketball or baseball—since 2011.

Many employees follow his and the company’s lead, volunteering their time and money to give back to the community in a variety of ways. Some of the employees attend the Festival of Trees for Kinderhaven each year. The store gives something to every school in the district and provides field trips for about half the grade schools, says Furin. “If the schools need help with something, we’re always there to help,” he adds.

Each year, the store supports the local fair and purchases 4-H animals. Last year they sold the local pigs they purchased from 4-H members at the store—a prime example of bringing community and company mission together by serving locally sourced fresh meat that also supported a good cause.

Neighboring Bonners Ferry Super 1 Foods is equally as dedicated to providing low prices on the highest quality and freshest foods to the community and finds every opportunity to get involved with supporting local families, nonprofits and food banks.

“We at Super 1 Foods are proud to give donations to nonprofit organizations, and support our 4-H and schools, and food banks,” says Hamley. The Bonners store sponsors the Bull Bash every year, in addition to the Demolition Derby, the 4-H live auction, and the local fire department spaghetti donations for families in need, he adds.

“With Bonners Ferry being such a small community, it gives Super 1 Foods the ability to connect with all our customers on a personal level and connect with each customer by name.”

The increased pressure COVID-19 has placed on grocery stores has only served to highlight and strengthen Super 1 stores’ spirit of community. Through the tough times stores have continued to find ways to fill their shelves and keep food available for customers, says Randy McIntire.

Extra sanitization measures and crowded stores with depleted stock have made it difficult working conditions for employees, but the company has worked to reward employees through Hero pay and extra money each pay day for their dedication, says Hamley.

“What's been inspirational to me, with most of my employees, how willing they are to go the extra mile for the customer during these tough times,” says Furin. “Through this, our sales have increased, and so everyone's had to work a little harder, and the out-of-stock issues—it's been challenging, but it's amazing.”

Looking forward, Super 1 stores are ready to support and help local communities as they work to recover from the crisis. “As civic organizations and churches become active again in serving our community, we will look forward to contributing to their efforts,” says Randy McIntire. “Food Banks will be very important this summer, and we will be supporting them in helping many neighbors who have been hurt by the economic shutdown.”

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